Wedding Budget Planner, Hints and Tips Guide


Right, you’ve found your ideal partner and decided to tie the knot. It’s an exciting time. But, before you get swept up in the moment, you need to have a serious and frank conversation with your beloved about who will be paying for your wedding. This may seem like a total passion-killer while you’re still feeling all “hearts and flowers” but it is THE most important part of planning your wedding in these initial stages, given that the average cost of a wedding will set you back in excess of £15,000. It may feel unromantic, and therefore a difficult subject to broach, but nobody wants to start married life with mounting debts either….

Who will pay for your wedding?Historically, the bride’s father would have picked up the tab for the main event, with a contribution from the groom for the ceremony fees and of course, a fittingly exotic honeymoon destination. However, it’s common practice nowadays for couples to pay for the entire wedding themselves or share the cost between themselves and both sets of parents. If you do opt for the cost of your wedding to be distributed in the traditional way, the list which follows gives you a quick overview of whose responsibility lies where.

The bride’s father usually pays for:

Newspaper announcement of your engagement
Bride’s, bridesmaids dresses, page boy outfit and all accessories
Bride’s parents outfits
Wedding stationery
Transport to ceremony venue for himself, bride’s mother, bridesmaids and page boy
Transport from ceremony venue to reception venue for those above
Flowers for both venues, including bouquets and buttonholes for guests
Wedding cake
All reception expenses
Photographer and videographer
Overnight accommodation for close family members
Present for the wedding couple
Wedding insurance
The groom’s parents pay for:

Their own wedding outfits
Present for the bride and groom
Meeting with the bride’s parents after the couple becomes engaged

The groom pays for:

The bride’s wedding ring
The stag party
Suit hire for himself, the best man and ushers
Transport to ceremony venue for himself, best man and ushers
Ceremony fees (church or civil)
Presents for bride, bridesmaids, best man, ushers and page boy
His going away outfit
Transport away from reception for the wedding couple
Wedding night

The bride pays for:

The groom’s wedding ring
Her going away outfit
The hen party
Her hairdresser and beautician on the wedding day
The groom’s present
Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue

The bride and groom pay for:

A present for the bride’s parents

The best man does not normally pay for anything although traditionally he pays for the ceremony fees with money given to him by the groom.

How to approach your parentsThis may seem obvious, but it’s best to pick a time when they’re more susceptible to seeing things from your view point. You may already have had some indication of whether they intend to contribute to your wedding financially as it may have been discussed when you told them of your engagement. Ask them to let you know when would be a convenient time to talk about your wedding. That way, they’ve had some advance notice of the subject matter and the conversation is taking place on their terms. If you spring it on them, they could have all manner of other things on their minds (family business you aren’t necessarily aware of, for example) and not be able to devote the time and/or attention to the subject of your wedding day that it rightly deserves.

It is not uncommon for the parents of many brides to be unable to manage the majority of the cost (as set out above). In addition, you may consider it unreasonable to expect your parents to even contribute, especially if you and your partner are both working, or over the usual age for marrying first time. However, many parents feel that they would like to make a contribution, and you should be respectful about their desire to be involved in this way. (After all, they may have spent many years mentally preparing for your wedding, and to refuse their help if it’s offered would be rather insensitive). If your parents are willing and able to fund part of your wedding (and you are comfortable with this) you should discuss with them what kind of figure they would be happy to provide. This way you and your fiance have an idea of how much you are likely to need to find yourselves. Bear in mind that your parents may be unaware of the average cost of a wedding nowadays, so drawing up a rough plan of anticipated costs in advance of approaching them may be a better option. It is usual practice (and good manners) for your estimate to be shown to the bride’s parents first, before being shown to the groom’s.

Planning and managing your budgetThere is every chance that you and your partner will have to do some saving to pay for some (if not all) of your wedding day. It is a good idea to dedicate a particular joint bank/building society account to this purpose. Be sure to shop around and check the best interest rates. Some might seem to be offering a good deal but you could be penalised for withdrawing cash early, which may not be the best choice if you have to pay suppliers advance deposits in order to secure bookings. Often online saving accounts offer the best rates due to their low maintenance costs.

How to find low cost suppliersThere are key elements which will influence the cost of your wedding, such as what time of year you choose to get married, the style of your wedding, the size ie number of guests and the setting. It’s best to have in mind the factors which matter most to you and prioritise accordingly, so that you can “reign in” your spending on any areas of lesser importance. Make sure you do plenty of research to get the best deals on the things which matter most to you. An effective way to do this is by joining an online forum where ideas can be shared, particularly from couples in the same position as you. Here’s a few wedding forums to get you started:

Set the budgetFirstly, set an overall budget. You will have established who (if anybody) is contributing to the “wedding fund” by this point, so that your plans remain on track and realistic. Do bear in mind that family members who are willing to contribute may well expect some authority over how and where their money is spent, which can be tricky if your ideas and theirs don’t match!
Make sure before you sign any contracts with suppliers that you are aware of exactly what you are paying for. The finer details of contracts can often reveal hidden “extras” that could severely hike up the cost and swallow chunks of the overall budget.

Do set a rough limit on spending in each area, as without it things can easily get out of control. If you keep in mind your priorities, it’s easier to see where overspending in one area means cutting back in another. Some budget checklists recommend that you set up a wedding “contingency” fund in case of overspending. However, there is a danger in doing so that you will find it harder to stick to your original budget, knowing that you have additional funds in reserve, so is not really advised. Exercise restraint-that’s what a budget means (boring, but true).

Limit your guests. This may be difficult but this is the main area where restricting numbers means big savings. The cost of food and drink at your wedding comes with a massive price tag so reducing bums on seats will instantly save you money, (think also fewer tables and chairs to hire, as well as a smaller venue) allowing you to spend more in another area (your dress, for example!) or indulge in a more extravagant menu for a more carefully selected guest list.

Be flexibleYour choice of venue is also important in terms of overall budget. The venue can also affect the date of your wedding, ie, if your dream setting is unavailable on your chosen date, you may need to be prepared to be flexible. Once the venue is chosen and booked, it’s easier to plan and book the rest of your wedding day. As with all aspects of your budget, research your venue to discover what‘s incuded, eg is there a room for you to change in, or day-before hire to dress the tables?

It’s also a good idea to be flexible with your date to reduce costs. Midweek weddings are significantly cheaper than traditional weekend ones. Similarly, although the Summer months have always been the most popular, out-of-season weddings can mean that you make drastic savings.

You may also find that the style of your wedding that you select saves you money. A traditional “wedding breakfast” will undoubtedly cost you more than a laid-back ceremony with an informal buffet.

The most important thing is to decide which features of your wedding are most important to you and then plan accordingly within your agreed budget. Make a list of what matters most to you on the day, be it the flowers, the entertainment, the photography or the table decorations.

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